Event Based Marketing - A new focus for Precision Marketing

1. Overview

With many businesses, there is increasing focus on budgets, and growing internal and external pressure to meet financial targets.
Precision Marketing has introduced alternate solutions to our financial services partners to counteract the declining response rates that are occurring as a result of almost two decades of relatively aggressive broad-scale marketing by financial services providers.
An event-based marketing strategy is currently being activated within several of our Asia Pacific markets. Our view is that in an environment where there is growing 'market fatigue', initiating relevant and meaningful conversations with the customer, based on a range of contextual, product and behavioural triggers will help enhance customer value and ROI for our partners.
This strategy document outlines some of the key theoretical, marketing and operational components that are allowing us to successfully introduce an event-based marketing strategy in several markets throughout Asia.

2. The core concepts of event-based marketing

Event–based marketing is a strategy, that when combined with the relevant technical architecture, allows us to focus on elements that are often missing from traditional direct distribution approaches: behavioural changes and timeliness. When both of these concepts are used together, they form the core of what event-based marketing is all about.
In short, Precision Marketing's event-based marketing strategy is designed to;

  • identify when a customer has a need (after applying an architecture that allows us to observe their behaviour on a daily basis and identify that there has been a change in their behaviour which signifies a need)
  • tell us exactly when the customer has this need by monitoring their activity on a daily basis. Monitoring a customer's activity on a daily basis allows us to pinpoint the exact time when a customer makes a decision, suggesting a change in their behaviour (this may or may not be premeditated)

For event-based marketing campaigns, this knowledge results in a shift in the way we target customers – allowing us to move away from the more traditional approach of segmentation and modelling where we find customers to push our offers to, to instead identifying customers who have a need which matches our offer and marketing to them in a timely manner.

3. Event-based marketing's role in the overall marketing program for our partner organisations

Precision Marketing holds the view that event-based marketing is not intended to completely replace existing direct distribution approaches, but will allow us to identify and target customers who are exhibiting unique behavioural characteristics and have relevant conversations with them in a timely manner. For most of our partners, segmentation and modelling-based campaign approaches will still feature in marketing programs and will continue to be successful in allowing contact with customers who exhibit normal behaviour but have a high propensity to purchase.

Table 3.1 Precision Marketing's three approaches to campaign design

SEGMENTATION Aggregated view of customers within a segment High-volume campaigns
Small number of variables analysed
High level of aggregation
Ability to reach customers who behave 'normally'
A low-value offer with an incentive to prompt action Campaign-based
Monthly or ad-hoc
20% above base 'sales per contact' rate (vs a campaign that has not had segmentation applied)
MODELLING Aggregated view of customers Medium-volume campaigns
Large number of variables
Aggregation at the customer level allows each customer to be compared
Ability to reach customers who behave 'normally
Medium-value offer with a reduced need on incentives and the ability to down sell Campaign-based
Monthly or ad-hoc
40% above base response 'sales per contact' rate (vs a campaign that has not had segmentation or modelling applied)
EVENT-BASED MARKETING Transactional view of customers Low-volume campaigns
Large number of variables
Raw transaction level data (no aggregation)

Ability to reach customers who have changes in behaviour, however cannot identify customers with 'normal behaviour'

High-value offer targeting the specific need of the customer with the opportunity to down sell on multiple levels, or cross sell to alternate product options Daily
50 – 150% above base response 'sales per contact' rate (vs a campaign that has had no specific data approach applied)

*Potential lift above base rate is based on previous marketing campaigns using event-based marketing techniques

Organisations with a high level of maturity in their event-based marketing strategy are currently monitoring over 200 individual customer events every day. It is not uncommon to see an adjustment in direct marketing volume to contain more than 60% of leads generated from their event-based marketing platforms.

4. The building blocks of event-based marketing: events and their groupings

Events fall into a number of different categories. This categorisation allows the Precision Marketing business team to make an informed assumption as to the drivers behind a change in a customer's behaviour.
The architecture we use looks at combinations of sequences and patterns of events; this is coupled with Precision Marketing's marketing experience to arbitrate between competing offers.
In turn, the customer is allocated to the most relevant product and channel and is communicated with in a timely fashion. Managing the process efficiently and effectively to ensure that the customer receives the communication on a timely basis is critical to the success of the program.
There are literally hundreds of events that are specific to a customer's association with a financial services organisation. A small sample is identified below.

Table 4.1 Event categories (examples)

  • Establish direct debit authority
  • Direct debit authority cancellation
  • Late credit card monthly payment
  • Term deposit approaching maturity
  • Personal loan approaching maturity
  • Evidence of marriage (name change/ joint bank account request)
  • Birth of a child
  • 'Milestone birthday' (30, 40 or 50)
  • Large dollar deposit to a credit card or savings account
  • Increased credit card spend within a specific merchant code (eg baby or infant merchandise, home equity spend)
  • Notable increase in salary payments

5. Event value and complexity

Precision Marketing pays particular attention to the value of combined events. It is often the case that the more complex the 'event formula' applied to the campaign, the greater the chance of accurately positioning the message and securing the sales opportunity through the channels that have been set up. An opportunity specific to a marketing record can be attained from a combination of situations that are derived from one event; however, with most programs, we find that success is attained from conversations, fed to the most appropriate channel, that eventuate from the examination of two or more event categories.

Table 5.1 Event complexity status definitions

SIMPLE Simplistic transactional changes involving the update of one single field
COMPLEX Triggers coupled with additional rules to determine significance to the individual
PATTERN Combinations of multiple triggers and secondary events occurring in sequence over a period of time.

6.The benefits of Event-based marketing on performance metrics

Table 6.1 Event-based marketing and the impact on campaign performance metrics.

Due to the timely and intimate nature of event-based marketing, our experience suggests that sales and conversation rates rise significantly. Complex event formulas can achieve significant uplift in conversion rates over traditional campaigns and simplified event driven campaigns. 10% - 20%
Referral rates also increase significantly with event-based marketing leads  due to customer contacts being made at the right time and for the right reason. It is common that customers who do not wish to the purchase the product being offered during the initial interaction express interest in other products and wish to obtain more information. 20% - 40%
Finally, due to customer advocacy events and often as a by-product of sales focused events, partners have stated that customer satisfaction and brand affinity rises within the customer base as customers respond well to the bank initiating communications with the customers in a timely and relevant manner. 100%

*Based on previous marketing campaigns using event based marketing techniques when compared to a campaign that does not involve an event-based marketing strategy

7. Event-based marketing example

Sample record #1

Event type(s)
Behavioural event combined with product event indicates a significant life change

Pattern (combination of multiple triggers and secondary events)

Behavioural and product events identified with the customer

  • Increased spend in baby/infant merchant category over defined period of time
  • Increased number of hospital/medical transactions during the same defined period of time
  • Opening of a new high-interest savings account

Predefined primary product sales opportunity
Term life insurance

Outbound telemarketing

Daily campaign overview
From the library of events that had been identified for a credit card portfolio, the architecture identified a pattern of events linked to a customer. The sales associate was armed with information that would allow a meaningful and timely discussion about a relevant insurance cross-sell opportunity.

Over a three-month period, the customer's increased transaction frequency in baby/ infant goods merchant categories, and the opening of a new high-interest family savings  account led to the assumption that this customer may be in a situation where a new baby may have been welcomed into the family, or be on the way.

This customer's record was incorporated into a daily campaign, where the sales agent telephoned to welcome the customer who had attained their new savings account product, and to progress the conversation to discuss the benefits of term life insurance.
The enhanced level of information that was available before the call and the timely manner in which the call was made allowed the sales associate to position a clear message within the call, build a level of rapport, and create genuine interest with the customer. 

Sample record #2

Event type
Behavioural event combined with product event indicating a significant life change
Pattern (combination of multiple triggers and secondary events)
Behavioural changes identified with the customer

  • Increased credit card  spend in stationery/book merchant category over defined period of time
  • Increased credit card spend in sporting good merchant category over defined period of time
  • Monthly direct debit authority with primary school set up on existing Cash Management Account

Predefined primary product sales opportunity
Term deposit

Multi -channel (e-mail with follow up outbound telemarketing)

Daily campaign overview
After a pattern of events linked to a customer who held a credit card and a bank cash management account were identified, the sales associate was armed with information that would allow him to have a timely discussion about a relevant cross-sell opportunity for the banks term deposit product options.

Over a three-month period, increased transaction frequency in sporting good/ book and stationery merchant categories, and the set up of a new direct debit authority for school fee payments in the customer's cash management account led to the assumption that this customer had a child who may have started school. This pattern of events resulted in the lead being incorporated in a daily campaign, where the sales associate telephoned the customer with a view to discussing the banks term deposit product options.

The enhanced level of information that was available prior to the e-mail and follow up call allowed a relevant, consistent message to be conveyed across each channel. The level of training the sales agents had received also allowed them to generate interest in another product altogether, if the discussion were to change course.

8. Event-based marketing: execution and channel considerations

Looking at key marketing and technical execution functions, the Precision Marketing business team are responsible for:

  • prioritisation of the initial 'event list' taking into account perceived effectiveness, and perceived implementation complexity
  • reviewing available products and 'mapping these' to the selected events
  • performing an analysis on business rules attached to potential events
  • developing final event list based results of analysis
  • developing calling scripts and sales material for each event
  • identifying appropriate sales agents and involving them in an intensive training program
  • development and implementation of selected events based on business rules derived from analysis
  • perform modifications to existing calling systems to enable effective use of EBM events (daily uploads, lead expiry, dynamic scripting etc…)
  • performing modifications to Precision Marketing's Campaign Factory as required

With the event-based marketing solution in place, and smaller, daily lead files being delivered to the channels that have been defined, one of the most important functions of a successful event-based marketing program involves addressing the significantly shorter timeframes related to campaign execution. The effectiveness of the back-end process, as well as the flexibility and expertise aligned with the front end sales engine is critical to the programs' success.

Channel considerations
Outbound telemarketing is a key channel for our event-based marketing campaigns.
For most of our partners, it is suggested that core calling teams will still be in place to service more traditional campaigns, focussing on executing leads attained from 'similar' event groups. This will help ensure there is consistent lead flow whilst the event-based marketing strategy is developed and refined.
Sales agents will be able to focus on delivering consistent messaging to customers, and will not be confused by messaging from a wide range of events, and multiple product options that may be available to compliment these.
Over time, structured sales agent development plans will allow sales agents to create a career path which will see them progress from the more traditional campaign strategies through to high-performing event-based marketing campaigns where leads are much more responsive but the sales approach requires more skill and expertise.

Diagram 8.1. Call centre career progression

Career progression EBM campaign team
Suggest utilising the skill sets of highly proficient operators that have progressed through lengthy exposure to larger, more structured (traditional) campaigns. Given the nature of certain events, it is important that the sales agents are trained to handle all types of situations, with appropriate sensitivity, which does not compromise the privacy of the customer.

9. In summary

Event-based marketing is a strategy that has allowed our business partners who specialise in a range of financial services product categories to significantly increase lead generation, referrals and sales, improve customer persistency, and enhance customer awareness and brand affinity, when compared to more traditional marketing campaigns.
Combined with a strategy that still involves campaigns that carry a segmentation and modelling focus, event-based marketing can become an integral part of the overall marketing plan, driving significant increases in marketing metrics, and overall ROI.
Access the 'Contact us' page on the Precision Marketing website to register your interest in receiving further details on how an event-based marketing strategy can assist your business.